Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang
Writers: Sam Lung, Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang, Thomas Pang
Screenplay: Cub Chin
Cinematography: Decha Srimanta
Producers: Sa-Nga Chatchairungruang, Alvin Lam
Starring: Angelica Lee, Ekin Cheng, Rain Li
Country: Hong Kong
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 100 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     This is the type of film, J-horror fans might really be able to sink their teeth into. With a loathing I cannot express in words for movies like The Grudge or Pulse, here is a film that surpasses either of those thematically. Although not truly a horror film, Re-Cycle legitimately creeped me out at many points; both visually and aurally, and it was a total blast.

      Re-cycle stars Angelica Lee as a novelist who decides she wants to stop writing best-selling love stories and write something a little more dark and terrifying. Several beginnings to her novel meet to her diappointment and they are tossed aside or deleted. Slowly, she finds attributes of those thrown away stories affecting her real life, until one day she is completely submerged in a dark world of abandoned stories. But as she comes to find, it's not just abandoned stories, but anything mankind has abandoned... ANYthing.

      The cinematography is totally breath-taking and the visual aspects are what I would yearn to see from any fantasy film. The world our protagonist finds herself in is a dark and dangerous alternate reality where anything can happen at any time. Demons and ghosts linger here and truly brought a chill to my spine on several occasions with their odd movements and creepy sounds. Many of these other-wordly characters reminded me of those from a David Lynch film: human-like, but somehow just... off. Blurry faces, masks, or just an odd-looking gait that is truly creepifying.

      The overall style is fairly dark; slightly under-exposed even, which gets the audience ever closer to a sense of forboding evil that works well. I can't say enough about the visual prowess of this film. Everything looks gorgeous; even in a hauntingly evil way. All of the effects are pulled off brilliantly and without flaw.

      Through her journey, the writer is helped to find her way back home by a little girl and a wise old man who gives them hints on what kinds of things they need to take with them and vague clues of which way to go (e.g. through the crescent moon, flowers, fading sky, to where thay all are apart). Each of these locales are supremely eye-popping and I would sit through this movie again in a heart-beat. Besides beautiful visuals, there are a couple of interesting camera and effect techniques I have never seen before and would love to witness again.

      Not a fault of the filmmaker, but that of the company hired by the producers to translate, the printed subtitles were attrociously bad. It was easy to gauge what was supposed to be said, but the syntax, spelling and general grammar were barely that of an American 6th grader. Be prepared to interpret some of the dialogue on your own. Not a major complaint, just a slight annoyance.

      The ending is where the unfortunate occurs and is the only real drawback I can find in this spectacular piece of cinema. The film becomes a very obvious pro-life movie. And when I say "very obvious," I mean VERY obvious. Let me be clear, I have no problem with the message of the story being an anti-abortion one. In fact, I actually appreciate the entertainment industry surprisingly endorsing something like this. However, this is the most over-the-top, beat you over the head message with laughable (literally - the audience I sat with, including myself giggled and rolled our eyes at the preaching) imagery and dialogue. It was so unnecessary and seemed to last forever. I think even pro-lifers may find this to be overdoing it and even a bit cheesy.

      Despite the corny, preaching attitude of the (almost) final act, Re-Cycle is sure to be one of the best films I see this year and would gladly watch again with just as much intrigue and suspense. Never would I watch the first hour alone and with the lights off. I truly hope an American studio doesn't decide to destroy this film with their own idea of what it should be as they have done recently with other Japanese fantasy/horror. When Re-Cycle hits movie houses in America (or wherever you are), I highly recommend checking this film out as quickly as possible. Just be prepared for a preaching of a life time with the final act.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site